Schools… Not Factories

I listened to Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on self-organized learning, and it was extremely inspiring for anyone interested in learning or the education of children. Sugata Mitra won the TED Prize for 2013 to help seed his ambitious project to create a “school in the cloud.” Here was the a-ha point for me in his talk:

But first, a bit of history: to keep the world’s military-industrial machine running at the zenith of the British Empire, Victorians assembled an education system to mass-produce workers with identical skills. Plucked from the classroom and plugged instantly into the system, citizens were churned through an educational factory engineered for maximum productivity.

In other words, the Victorians assembled a global human computer to run the world, and they created the school system to produce more human parts for the computer. But we don’t live in that age anymore. We have real computers now. So why hasn’t our educational system changed?

Here’s another great point:

Schools still operate as if all knowledge is contained in books, and as if the salient points in books must be stored in each human brain — to be used when needed. The political and financial powers controlling schools decide what these salient points are. Schools ensure their storage and retrieval. Students are rewarded for memorization, not imagination or resourcefulness.

I constantly hear a refrain of “innovation” and “creativity” as what we need for the 21st-century world. Yet our school system is designed to stifle innovation and creativity. Today, we need schools not structured like factories, but like clouds.

Read more and watch the TED Talk: Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools… Not Factories.

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